Blyth Academy Newsletter Term Three 2020

 
The beginning of this Term started out like any other; students were engaged in the classroom, the hallways were bustling, and experiential learning was happening in and around the campus. Today, we find ourselves in a much different situation — students are continuing their same classes and activities, but they now come together and connect with teachers and classmates through our virtual classrooms. While teaching and learning continues to be disrupted across the province, we are fortunate that our staff and teachers have worked hard to make Blyth Academy Lawrence Park’s virtual classroom model a success. With the extended closure, we are committed to continuing the same small class sizes and personalized education that our students and families expect. Live virtual classes, office hours, guidance support and even extracurricular activities have continued through our virtual tools. In these uncertain times, we believe that our students benefit greatly from the structure, social interaction and support their school provides them.

Here are a few highlights from Term Three at Blyth Academy Lawrence Park.


In and Around the Campus

Being Brilliant in Drama Class
In February, Grade 9 and 10 Drama students had the privilege of attending Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sellout production of Hamilton at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. For context, Hamilton is the story of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. The musical score is incredible: it is a brilliant fusion of hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway. It is the story of America then, told by America now. Aidan F. said, “The rap had an incredible flow and tempo and the set was amazing.” Shirah N. said it was, “history and rap blended together seamlessly.” To summarize, it was a brilliant trip and if you can get hold of tickets, you should definitely see it!
Spotlight on Winter
During the winter, students hit the slopes during the annual Blyth Winter Day trip to Snow Valley. The early morning departure was worth it, as our group arrived in time for a full day in fair weather conditions. Skiers and snowboarders took a quick levels test, and then spread across the three hills. One set of students took a safety training course to be able to access the terrain park: I saw some impressive jumps and board slides. Another group chose snow-tubing as a more relaxing way to speed down the slopes. All students enjoyed taking breaks in the lodge, where warming fires crackled and hot food was served. Thank you to the organizers and participants!
Being Brilliant in French Class
Earlier this term, the Grade 11 and 12 French class took a trip downtown to the French restaurant Le Papillon on Front Street to eat together and practice our French! We enjoyed the Macaroni au Fromage et Boeuf, the Crêpe Fromage et Pommes, and some brownies for dessert. Not only was the food delicieux but we were also waited on by a French server who only spoke to us in French. With a beautiful brick interior, French music playing, and real French-speaking waiters, Le Papillon created a great cultural atmosphere and provided the students with a taste of what they might experience if they find themselves in a Parisien restaurant one day! As an assignment following the trip, the Grade 11 students were asked to make an advertisement for Le Papillon and its place in Toronto’s francophone scene. Here we have student Maia Galletta’s beautifully designed ad:

Virtual Classrooms

The transition to online has been an exciting one! Our teachers and students are working together to bring their classroom community and hands-on learning to the virtual world. In just the first week, we had students presenting their work to the class, online polls being conducted, break-out groups, interactive PowerPoints & workspaces, and cooking challenges. Great work, everyone!

Though our physical doors remain temporarily closed, the minds of our students stay open. Summer classes are continuing to meet on their regular daily schedules, in virtual classrooms with face-to-face instruction and peer interaction.  The Blyth Academy model of small class sizes, flexible scheduling and individualized approach have enabled us to remain faithful to our standards. Our commitment to ongoing and meaningful communication between school, teachers, students and families has been critical to this effort.

Although our students have transitioned into summer mode and COVID-19 restrictions have begun to loosen, we are looking ahead to what September will hold for our campuses and families.
We want to be clear - our preference and our priority is to get students back to our campuses, but we must ensure this is done in a safe and effective way. While we await official guidance from Public Health and the Ministry of Education, a "return to school" task force has been hard at work putting concrete operational plans in place for all likely scenarios. This includes a full return to campus with safeguards, a blended model of virtual and in-campus learning and the continuation of fully virtual classrooms. All scenarios will provide robust learning and live, daily instruction and interaction with teachers and peers. 
With ten campuses across Ontario, we realize that each one of our schools is a unique space and community. We will be implementing across-the-board policies on hand washing, facility cleaning and social distancing measures. Each school is also prepared to pivot individually based on the guidance of local health authorities and to best serve students and families. 
Our recent survey showed that over 80 per cent of Blyth Academy families are eager to return to campuses, and we are hard at work to prepare for this day. As September's scenario becomes clearer and more information becomes available, we will continue to communicate. 

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